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Navy veteran uses comedy, patriotism to overcome racism in the ranks

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Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 22:03:32-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Wendell Williams has a unique way of making people laugh.

"I am the "Acronym Man' of comedy, meaning, I like to take a word or letters that somewhat have a negative, and put a positive twist on it," said Williams to packed house Saturday at Bella Luna restaurant during his comedy act.

It turns out, his act is actually his life personified.

His journey to this stage of his life required Williams to first confront racism while serving in the Navy in the early 1980's.

Williams admits to making a critical mistake when confronting a superior officer who made a racist remark to him.

"An altercation came about," he admitted. "I got into a fight."

For retaliating, Williams spent two years in military prison and was given a dishonorable discharge. His military career was over.

"Personally, if he didn't do what he did, I wouldn't have put myself in that position," recalled Williams. "But it did happen, and I'm here today to tell it, you know, and I really don't like to, but I like to come clean about things."

Throughout the last 40 years. Williams learned to accept the past through one-part comedy, and another-part life philosophy, which he incorporates into his acts.

"I have the 4 'L's' s in life: you Live, learn to love life," he said. "That's how I look at it, because what has happened shouldn't stop me from becoming a better person."

Since 2015, Williams has also been an usher at Corpus Christi Hooks baseball games.

Last Friday, he was given the opportunity to sing the national anthem. Just before it, I asked him to consider the last 12 words of the song and how they resonate with him today.

"It is that fulfillment — that rush that I'm going to get to sing at the end," said Williams. "(It's) because you fought to be free, and it is the home of the brave. You cannot take that away."

His active military service also cannot be taken away — That's why I connected Williams with Nueces County Veterans Service Officer JJ De La Cerda.

De La Cerda will now investigate whether Williams' dishonorable discharge can be upgraded 40 years after he was subjected to racism in the military ranks.

More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans. Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at pat.simon@kristv.com